Mike Daisey Raptures the Evangelicals

At least he makes about 90 of them disappear from his audience. Although not before one follower of Christ pours water all over his notes.

Last night’s performance of INVINCIBLE SUMMER was disrupted when eighty seven members of a Christian group walked out of the show en masse, and chose to physically attack my work by pouring water on and destroying the original of the show outline.

I’m still dealing with all the ramifications, but here’s what it felt like from my end: I am performing the show to a packed house, when suddenly the lights start coming up in the house as a flood of people start walking down the aisles–they looked like a flock of birds who’d been startled, the way they all moved so quickly, and at the same moment…it was shocking, to see them surging down the aisles. The show halted as they fled, and at this moment a member of their group strode up to the table, stood looking down on me and poured water all over the outline, drenching everything in a kind of anti-baptism.

Playbill.com also has a rundown on what happened:

It was during a portion of the show in which he was speaking about Paris Hilton that the audience walk-out occurred. Daisey said that based on comments group members made to the front-of-house staff, it was the profanity used in his monologue that caused the uprising. “A number of them,” Daisey said, “expressed that they were disgusted by ‘this filth.’ . . . I’m very good at sensing houses — it’s my job. The audience was unified and warm up to that moment. My suspicion is because they were there together as a group, they were compelled to leave as a group. When a group is together, it doesn’t take that many people to make [everyone] act unreasonably.” Daisey does say that a few members of the group apologized for their behavior as they were leaving the theatre.

Update:

Mike Daisey tracks down and talks to the man who poured water onto his work:

His name is David. At the beginning of the conversation there was a lot of silence–long, long silences that neither of us were willing to puncture. First I made him understand what he had done–that these were the only set of notes for the show, how I work with them, what he had cost me in terms of my physical work and in terms of what it had been like that next night to go out in front of them. I needed him to understand what he had taken from me.

He quietly said that he had heard me, and that he understood.

I gradually opened him up by listening, and responding, the one-on-one version of what I do with an audience. We talked about many things, for almost an hour, and step by step, his story emerged.

He has three kids–one is 21, and two are 17–and he’s terrified of the world. Terrified by violence, and sex, and he sees it all linked together–a horrifying world filled with darkness, pornography and filth that threatens his children, has threatened them all his life. They’re older now, but he says he still sees things the same way–and that the only way to protect his children and himself is to lock it all out of his life.

He also said he’s had anger-control issues for years, and sometimes acts of rage come over him–he explodes, and then has to apologize, and doesn’t know why it happens. He tries to lock it down, but it happens, and he’s ashamed of it. I told him that regardless of where we both stand, I felt very strongly that the repression of walling off everything in the world and viewing it all as filth is connecting with these outbursts, and that it isn’t going to work–until you deal with the root causes, and deal with the world, his anger and rage would keep using him.

And he forgives him:

And then I forgive him. He is very quiet–he is obviously shocked. And I tell him, “I want you to remember that a liberal atheist has forgiven you today. I don’t want you to ever forget that, as long as you live, do not forget what happened here. I don’t have God behind me, but I speak for myself, and I forgive you for myself, and for you. Never forget this.”